Eat & Drink

A Guide To The Weirdest And Most Wonderful Filipino Street Food

Forgo the stock standard spring roll or roadside noodles and instead  say Halo-Halo to a world of unusual bites and colourful street eats found in the Philippines.

Maybe there’s something in the surrounding waters, because Filipino street food can be both bloody delicious and downright bizarre at the same time – like the pairing of ice cream served up with condensed milk and sweet potato.

 

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It may sound oh-so-wrong, but trust the Filipino’s on this one. They’ve got it right. Time to come on an adventurous ride as we explore what street eats can be found throughout The Philippines.

Halo-halo

One of The Philippines’ most popular cold street food desserts dishes, Halo-halo is a layered summertime snack, invented using leftover ingredients from the kitchen.

It is an odd and colourful mix of crushed ice, evaporated milk and various ingredients that you would not consider being put together. Somehow, it works.

 

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These mystery ingredients include sweetened beans, sugarberry, toasted rice, sago, fruit slices, and coconut sport (macapuno) (just to name a few). The dish is then topped  with either purple yam, leche flan, ice cream or a combination of the three.

A weird concoction? Perhaps. Does it work? I couldn’t put the spoon down. Best served after a hot day of treating yourself to the island hopping in Palawan.

Isaw

Have a strong stomach? Good! You’re are going to need it. Don’t let this little sausage’s appearance fool you, isaw is made from either pig or chicken intestines, then skewered over a charcoal fire until charred and smoky.

 

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If those intense fire flavours weren’t enough, some locals like to douse these barbecued kebabs in chilli, onion and vinegar to give it that little extra kick.

Adidas

 

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No this isn’t some kind of sporty treat, rather it’s barbecued chicken feet. Eating adidas can be like eating a chicken wing, except the meat is replaced with soft tendons. Not all parts are edible, so be prepared to decide on which parts to keep chewing on and which parts to throw away.

Dried squid

There’s jerky, and then there’s dried squid. When squid is dried, it turns into one chewy-as-hell snack. The squid is prepared by being left out in the sun to dehydrate, then is soon after flattened.

 

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It then goes back onto the fire and is grilled to chewy perfection. Served on a stick, the dried squid is then doused in chilli, onion and vinegar.

Balut

If you’ve just hopped off the plane in Manila, this street food snack will give you the ultimate culture shock, as balut is undoubtedly one of those things that you may try only once and be happy to leave it at that!

At the outset, balut looks like a typical hard-boiled egg, but upon closer inspection, you will notice it’s certainly not vegetarian-friendly. It contains a fertilised duck embryo. The length of incubation usually ranges from 14 to 21 days. It’s safe to say that this delicacy isn’t for those with a sensitive stomach.

 

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To eat balut is a talent in itself. First you crack a small hole on the hollow end and slurp the broth , then peel the shell off. Next, take a bite into it to reveal a texture of boiled egg white and yolk mixed with the embryo.

You’ll be able to take a cheeky peek at all the parts of the duckling – wings and beak included. It may not be so pleasing on the eye, but it’s mild in taste.  To wash it all down (and to treat yourself in the process) balut is best served with beer.

Go on – you know you’ve earned it after this daring bite!

Kwek kwek

It’s hard not to miss those deep fried, ping pong-sized bright orange balls on the Filipino street food scene. Those balls, kwek kwek, are like a corn dog – just minus the meaty element.

 

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Kwek kwek is essentially quail eggs coated in an orange batter that are then deep fried until they’ve achieved that perfect crunch while still being ever-so-soft on the inside.

It’s then served up with the usual favoured Filipino condiments – vinegar, chilli and onion to help counteract its oiliness. If you are an egg lover, there is also a hard-boiled chicken variation called tokneneng. 

Banana Q (Banana cue)

 

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Banana Q is the queen of sweet. This isn’t no ordinary healthy banana plucked from the tree – not when it is coated in brown sugar and then caramelized to golden perfection. Its lovely burnt sweetened taste will make you see bananas in a new way as your new favourite sugary guilty pleasure.

Don’t sleep on the street food scene in The Philippines – it’s one of the world’s

(Lead image: Bash Carlos/ Unsplash)